Tuesday Jul 23 2019

New British PM Boris Johnson's Pakistan connection

Then-London Mayor Boris Johnson's interview with Geo News in 2016.

LONDON: Former London Mayor Boris Johnson may have won the Conservative party race to become Britain's next prime minister, but not many people know about his connection to Pakistan and Islam.

In an exclusive interview with Geo News in 2015, then-London mayor Johnson told this correspondent that his wife is from Pakistan, and that she has insisted him several times to visit the country.

Image from November 2016 shows Boris Johnson (left) shaking hands with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman and now Prime Minister Imran Khan (right).

Johnson and his wife Marina Wheeler, however, separated last year and are currently going through a divorce.

During the May 2015 interview with Geo News, Johson revealed that his wife Marina had been persistently asking him to make a trip to Pakistan together but he was unable to fulfil her wish due to heavy political engagements. In the exclusive interview with Geo News, Johnson revealed that his wife was originally from Pakistan.

"My wife (Marina Wheeler) originates from Pakistan, she is a Sikh and her parents were from Sargodha. She has been asking me to visit Pakistan since a long time but unfortunately I was unable to do so but I intend to visit the amazing country soon," Johnson had told Geo News in the interview.

"By the way my friend Peter Oborne (cricket writer and political analyst) is upset with me too that I haven't been to Pakistan and I have promised him too that the visit will be on my priority list after the elections are over," he had said.

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson at the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore during a visit to Pakistan in November 2016.

Pakistan visit and connection to Islam

Johnson later paid a visit to Pakistan in November 2016, when he met then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman and now Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, among others.

Johnson also visited several historic monuments in Pakistan during his trip to the country.

"British Pakistanis are the wheels of our economy's engine like so many other nationalities who work hard day and night to drive our country forward. There is a huge potential of trade between Pakistan and London and we need to focus on that and I am quite willing to do everything I can on that front. Pakistan is an amazing country with amazing people," Johnson had said during his 2015 interview.

He further said that his own great-grandfather was a Muslim and he believed that Islam means peace to others, adding that the characterisation of all Muslims as extremists was unacceptable.

Johnson said that Islamophobia posed a serious problem to cohesion and multiculturalism in Britain and it was important that all parties and organisations unite to defeat this menace.

On Tuesday, Johnson won the race to become Britain's next prime minister, defeating Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative Party leadership contest.

Johnson defeated Hunt by 92,153 votes to 46,656 votes cast by members of the Conservative party. He will officially replace outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday, when she formally tenders her resignation to Queen Elizabeth II.